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Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Racing (errr... Riding?) the Tour de Zwift

For those who Zwift - you will know that the Tour de Zwift is as much a race as a ride.

Sure, there's the odd message saying "it's not a race"... but there are standings, your position is displayed, and at the front it's 100% a race!

I've been watching some YouTube videos of people racing, like Don't Get Dropped guy Erik, and was inspired to give it another try - really hit it and see what I could do.

I'm currently in Category D (demoted from last year, womp womp) - so anything in the top 50% usually makes me pretty happy.

The Course

Richmond Rollercoaster... ugh! So much hill.

From (click link) 

I'm big - 98kg right now (over 215lbs) so those hills are scary steep.

First rule of Zwift "racing" is to know the course, and have a plan. Mine was to give it stink out of the gate, get into the lead group, hang on for dear life up 23rd and KOM Reverse then hopefully find a big old blob to carry me through the rest of the ride.

I learned a few tricks from some of the videos... 

  • If you join the event early, then leave, you can warm up somewhere else but "reserve" a spot near the front for when you join back
  • Don't accelerate until about 2s before the start for the biggest "bump" out of the gate
I did both of these... and I was still swarmed and passed early! But I got into a big enough group downhill at a zillion kilometers an hour that we caught back up - in fact I ended up blasting through the entire group and into 1st place!

Definitely not the plan.

Fortunately others again pushed forward and I drafted my way into 23rd street - and watched as the lighter riders scampered off, which was expected.

Topped the hill and managed to tag onto the back of a few riders downhill, got a feather power-up (yay!)... everything was going great!  Held my own up the KOM Reverse and went way into the red, further than I really ever would normally go so early... 

Recovering in the Draft!

... but it all worked out famously, I ended up in a nice sized group at the crest of the hill.

I was able to do a bit of recovery at this point, but I knew there were more climbs ahead.  Main Street is much lower gradient (3-6%) so there is some drafting which helped.

From there on it was hang in with the draft and don't get dropped.

Unfortunately I didn't have anything for the final sprint... ended up in 41st place on ZwiftPower of the 121 ZP riders, best in my finishing "group" was 30th - so still have a few lessons to learn about all of this.

All in all it was a blast, and nice to have the legs again to be able to do something like this!

It's a great workout, really forces you into the red when you maybe don't feel like it - but you can see the wheel in front getting away and that extra blast is there!

Will definitely do this again.

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